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The Benefits of Using PHI in Patient Communications

Wednesday, March 15th, 2023

Some healthcare organizations do not allow PHI to be sent outside the patient’s health record. However, by allowing your marketing and administrative teams to use PHI in patient communication, you can streamline operations, improve the patient experience, and increase revenue.

Although the healthcare industry is traditionally slow to adopt new technologies, the past few years have rapidly accelerated the shift to digital communications. The reasons for these shifts are varied and will be explored in detail below. No matter the reason, one thing is certain- organizations adapting to the modern digital age are thriving, while those resisting change are falling behind in meeting patient expectations.  

Changing Technology Preferences

Rapid technological innovation has made it possible to communicate securely at scale. As broadband access has increased, people are incorporating it into their daily lives. In 2022, 92% of Americans reported using email, and 49% checked it every few hours. Many people now prefer to receive business communications via email because it is asynchronous and can be engaged with when it fits into their schedules.

healthcare technology preferences stats

Healthcare organizations that utilize email for external communication are experiencing better response rates and fewer patient no-shows. Email already fits into the daily lives of many patients and doesn’t require them to take extra steps to receive information about their healthcare journey.

The Rise of Healthcare Consumerism

Healthcare consumerism refers to patients’ personal choices and responsibility in paying for and managing their health. Patients are no longer stuck with one provider or practice. They have more choices than ever and will shop around for new providers if unsatisfied with their experience. 

If healthcare providers are not delivering a digital experience that meets patient expectations, they could risk losing patients and revenue.

reasons to change providers

In addition, as younger generations are taking control of their healthcare, they are used to digital-first experiences that are personalized to their needs. If organizations are unwilling to invest into personalized digital patient experiences, they will not adequately serve the next generation of healthcare consumers. 

Staffing Challenges

The healthcare industry is not immune to recent staffing challenges. Staffing shortages have left fewer employees available to do more tasks, including patient care. Introducing digital technology into your patient communication strategy can help automate and streamline common communication workflows like:

  • Appointment reminders
  • Pre- and post-procedure instructions
  • Health education messages
  • Vaccine reminders
  • Medication adherence reminders
  • Billing

Automating common workflows frees up time for staff to focus on urgent patient needs and improves the patient experience. 

How to Safely Use PHI in Patient Communications

Patients are already communicating with their healthcare providers one-on-one via email. The question is, how can you protect this data while communicating at scale for marketing and educational purposes? There are tools (like LuxSci’s Secure Marketing and Secure High Volume Email solutions) that are designed to support the unique security needs of the healthcare industry while providing the personalized digital experience that patients desire.

Protecting PHI in Patient Communications

PHI needs to be protected in emails with advanced encryption technology. TLS encryption should be used as often as possible because it provides a user experience like regular email without requiring a portal login. For marketing and patient education emails, TLS is sufficient to protect data and allows patients to readily engage with the email content. By properly vetting and choosing the right vendors, marketing and administrative teams can communicate with patients via email without violating HIPAA. 

Personalization at Scale

The power of PHI is undeniable. When healthcare marketers can harness healthcare data to create ultra-personalized campaigns, it increases their relevance and the likelihood that the content will be engaged with, delivering a better ROI. Our solutions integrate via API to securely personalize messages and trigger emails when specific conditions are met. This allows marketers to send relevant messages at the right time when it is relevant to the patient’s healthcare journey.

personalization stats 

Modern technology is needed to serve today’s patients. Meeting patients where they are with the information they need on the channels they prefer is vital to improving healthcare outcomes for the most vulnerable populations. Using PHI in patient communications gives your organization a comparative advantage by providing a better patient experience. 


Omnichannel Marketing For Healthcare

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

Omnichannel marketing is a relatively new strategy that can help healthcare marketers achieve success. Marketers need to leverage a variety of marketing tactics to reach and communicate with their patients. Omnichannel marketing involves the integration of digital channels and traditional media to provide a consistent and personalized experience across all channels to drive marketing success.

omnichannel marketing

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Online Reviews and HIPAA Compliance

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Online reviews are critical for success in our modern business world. Many of us turn to online reviews when searching for a new health provider, but HIPAA compliance issues complicate how providers can use online reviews.

Savvy health care marketers want to use online reviews to attract new patients. But how can they do so while also protecting sensitive data and complying with HIPAA?

online reviews HIPAA

Online Reviews and Medical Marketing

Online reviews are extremely popular and are often consulted by patients looking for new providers. Google, Yelp, and Facebook are just a few of the most common review websites that people visit. Skilled digital marketers in every industry recognize the power of a positive review and want to incorporate online reviews and testimonials into their marketing strategies. How many times have you been contacted and asked to leave a review after visiting a restaurant, supermarket, or retail store?

However, when it comes to the health care industry, it’s not as simple as sending off an automated email or survey. Health care marketers need to keep HIPAA compliance in mind when crafting their review campaigns.

The HIPAA Compliance Issues Involved In Asking For Online Reviews

A traditional email campaign to request a review is quite simple. The sender creates a message that says something like “Thanks for visiting Dr. Smith’s office today. We hope you had a positive experience and we would appreciate your feedback. Please click here to leave a review on Google.” You may not realize it, but this simple ask is more complicated than it seems from a HIPAA compliance perspective. Why? Because even the most seemingly mundane details constitute electronic protected health information (ePHI).

ePHI is defined as “individually identifiable health information” relating to:

  • An individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
  • The provision of health care to the individual, or
  • The past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual.

A patient’s name and even their email address are considered individually identifiable information, while asking for a review of their appointment clearly relates to the “…provision of health care to the individual.”

Most messages that ask for an online review include ePHI and must be protected. If this information isn’t adequately secured, the message will be sent in violation of HIPAA. These violations can result in significant penalties for your organization.

How Can You Ask For Patient Reviews And Maintain HIPAA Compliance?

Is it possible for healthcare marketers to solicit patient reviews via email? Keeping the message content as generic as possible may help you avoid a violation. However, when it comes to HIPAA and patient security, we always recommend stepping up your game.

Sending normal emails or text messages is risky, but a HIPAA-compliant email solution allows you to circumvent this problem. Services like LuxSci’s Secure Marketing and Secure High Volume Email are designed with HIPAA compliance in mind. They have the appropriate protections (including message encryption) in place to keep ePHI secure.

Using these services allows you to ask patients for online reviews, all in a HIPAA-compliant manner. Not only will this help your company get more positive online reviews, but LuxSci’s solutions allow you to automate the whole process. You can set up the systems to automatically email patients after they have an appointment, making it simple for your company to boost its online reputation.

How To Respond To Online Reviews While Maintaining HIPAA Compliance

Most marketers know that it is a good practice to respond to patient reviews, whether they are positive or negative. However, public correspondence regarding patient appointments can be a nightmare when it comes to HIPAA compliance.

Even acknowledging that a patient had an appointment with your organization can be a HIPAA violation, because it combines details of their health care with individually identifiable information in a public forum.

This means that even if a patient publicly writes about their medical conditions or treatments, you can’t acknowledge them. This means messages like “Thanks so much! We’re glad Dr. Smith was able to stitch you up.” or “We’re sorry to hear you had a bad experience refilling your anti-depressant prescription. How can we fix the situation?” are off-limits.

It’s counter to how most marketers would like to reply, but for compliance reasons you cannot acknowledge their visit or the specifics. A HIPAA-compliant message could be something like* “We really appreciate your review.” It may seem impersonal, but the law is the law, and you face huge fines if you disobey it.

(*Please note that this is not intended as legal advice. You should consult a lawyer if you have questions about online reviews and compliance.)

Responding To Online Reviews In A HIPAA-Compliant Manner

There are many situations where you may want to give a more sincere reply than the example above, especially if a patient had a negative experience. If the review is not anonymous, we recommend having a staff member reach out privately.

It’s best to see these as opportunities to listen to your patients and try to rectify the situation. By taking the right approach, you can turn a negative review into a positive experience.

However, you can’t have a detailed discussion about the online review on the website while still maintaining your HIPAA compliance. This means that you need a way to reach out to your patients without violating the regulations. LuxSci’s Secure Email is perfect for these kinds of situations, because it is designed from the ground up to be HIPAA-compliant. You can email your patients to discuss the situation without worrying about exposing their ePHI and violating the law.

Contact LuxSci now to find out how you can use our services to reach out to your patients and collect reviews that drive new business.

How to Achieve Better Open & Click Rates Without Compromising Data Security

Tuesday, January 19th, 2021

Want to improve your email open and click rates, but scared you might end up compromising data or personal information?  It’s a common fear, but in our world of constant cybersecurity incidents, it should probably get even more attention than it does.

If your organization falls under the HIPAA regulatory framework, you need to have an even greater level of concern about how information security can be compromised amid the constant push to leverage data for more effective marketing and engagement.

Better Open & Click Rates

While you may think that data security is at odds with the goal of boosting open and click rates, there are ways that you can find a suitable balance between the two.

Boosting Open & Click Rates

Almost every organization wants to ensure its long term success, and those in the health industry are not immune from this tendency. In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, a large portion of this comes down to being able to stand out from the crowd, particularly through email marketing.

One of the most critical aims of email marketing is to achieve high open and click rates. Performing well in these metrics tends to bring in more business, which is an important part of keeping the lights on.

But how are high open and click rates achieved?

Under normal circumstances, it’s important for the subject lines and messages to be well-written, engaging, and targeting the right groups with the right propositions. The more relevant your subject line is to an individual, the more likely they are to open it. The more appealing or useful its contents, the more likely that the person will take your desired action.

So the burden of success tends to fall on the shoulders of your copywriters. They need to be able to get into the minds of their prospective recipients and create an appeal that matches the recipients’ needs and desires. This is fundamentally how high open and click rates are achieved.

But people are not monolithic, and a message that works for one will be a dismal failure on another. This brings us to segmenting email lists into groups with commonalities, and targeting them appropriately.

Targeting Customers to Boost Open & Click Rates – What About ePHI?

If you are in the health industry or process electronic protected health information (ePHI) on behalf of others, you have to be cautious about how you use your data to target those on your email list. This data may be incredibly helpful for targeting people with the appropriate messages, but it can very easily result in HIPAA violations.

Even something as simple as sending out a newsletter about anorexia to a group of anorexia patients could be considered ePHI, because the recipients’ emails, plus the information about their medical conditions, or the fact that they visited your facility, can tick both of the boxes that determine whether or not information counts as ePHI.

This makes it incredibly easy to end up on the wrong side of HIPAA by accident. Your organization may never intend to send emails that contain ePHI, but a staff member could send something seemingly benign, only for it to result in the serious ramifications of a HIPAA violation.

Because of the ease of making these mistakes and the significant consequences of doing so, it’s best for organizations to use a HIPAA-compliant email marketing service if there is even the slightest chance that ePHI could accidentally be sent in a message.

HIPAA-Compliant Email Marketing Services: High Open & Click Rates Without the Risk

While HIPAA-compliant service providers are critical for reducing your organization’s risks, there aren’t a whole lot of options. Quasi-HIPAA compliant providers may allow you to store ePHI in their databases, but their complicated configurations and incomplete security (i.e., they do not send encrypted emails)  could easily lead your organization to violate HIPAA regulations.

LuxSci’s Secure Marketing is one of the only services that allows you to send marketing messages that may contain ePHI, without facing major risks. The security mechanisms and HIPAA compliance built into the Secure Marketing service allow you to use your customer data without having to worry about falling foul of HIPAA.

This means that LuxSci’s service allows you to safely use your data to target recipients with relevant and effective messages. You can send a newsletter on anorexia to those that suffer from the disease, or a reminder to take a bowel cancer screening for those most susceptible.

Our Secure Marketing service helps you target groups with the information they really need, rather than just spamming your entire list with various information and hoping that some small portion of your audience finds it interesting.

Not only does this prevent people from unsubscribing because they are sick of receiving a bunch of irrelevant emails, but it also makes it much easier to achieve high open and click rates and positive, active engagement. This is because you can target smaller groups with messages that are specifically designed to appeal to them.

Secure Marketing can help you get past the poor ROI of mass emails, without having to worry about violating HIPAA. LuxSci’s Secure Marketing customers that follow best practices have been achieving open and click far above the normal expected rates in the industry, which are around 10-20% for opening and 1-2% for clicking.

With such dramatic differences, Secure Marketing can be the missing piece of the puzzle that helps your organization leverage its data without the usual risks. Contact our staff to find out how LuxSci’s Secure Marketing can help improve your business’ open and click rates.

Connect your Secure Forms to your Secure Marketing

Wednesday, November 11th, 2020

From a marketing and engagement perspective, an extremely common and revenue-driving workflow is to have the contact information of the people who fill out your online forms automatically added to your marketing database. This integration saves time by not requiring manual data entry steps and speeds up your marketing automation processes.

Secure Form to Secure Email Marketing Integration

This automated connection is now available for your LuxSci Secure Forms. After a license upgrade, they can now be automatically integrated with your LuxSci Secure Marketing platform. This integration enables new contacts to be automatically created in your Secure Marketing instance from selected Secure Form posts. You can then leverage Secure Marketing to send automated drip campaigns to these contacts, group mailings, and more.

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